A/N: Thanks to wolfgrl04 for being my faithful beta. This is a one shot to accompany Eclipsed Heart. It gives a little history to Bella and Jacob's relationship, I hope you all enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight; all the respective characters belong to SMeyer.
The Best Kind of Friend
The room felt unusually warm as I stirred under my covers. My body still heavy from a long night's sleep, groaned in resistance as I stretched. Reluctantly, I peeled the covers off my head and was instantly blinded by the sunlight as it flooded through my window.
I squinted as I looked around the room, wondering if I was still dreaming. Or perhaps I had awoken back in Phoenix, and Forks had just been some realistic nightmare. Unfortunately, as my eyes adjusted, I was met with the same walls of my childhood bedroom that I'd been trying to get reacquainted with for the past week.
My toes searched for the floor as I ambled out of bed and to the front window, pulling the shades closed. How odd, I thought. I had never seen it so sunny in Forks before. If Neverland was a place for children to go and never have to grow up, then Forks was a place for people to go and never have to see the sun.
It was a place under the continual cover of clouds, and it teamed with life and growth that was fed by the always dependable rain.
As a child I had always thought Forks was like a place out of a fairytale itself. The forest was hidden behind its curtain of moss and overgrowth seemed to hide its secrets neatly; tucked away for no one to find. I would often daydream about living in the woods. Finding a small cottage there and making friends with the woodland creatures. I would be Snow White, and it would be my emerald fortress.
Those dreams far behind me, Forks had become the last place I truly wanted to be. The majesty of the forest lost on me as I grew, and now it just seemed depressing and dark – haunting.
The miraculous appearance of the sun was nothing short of amazing and I couldn't stop the ear-to-ear grin that spread across my face as I brushed my hair out. I dressed quickly and tried to push the anxiety out of my head about starting a new week at Forks High. The hardest part was over, and I had already noticed a decline in interest towards me by the end of last week. Although, I couldn't shake the looming dread that Edward might return and I wasn't sure how to handle him.
The feelings of angst and nerves pushed their way into my subconscious, trying desperately to find a place there. I took a deep breath and then looked back to the window; inspiration filled me. The window was old, and hadn't been opened in years. I half expected it to be painted shut. Luckily, besides needing some WD-40, it opened with no problem.
I stuck my body out the window as far as I could and turned my head toward the blinding sun. A week with no sun was too long, and it saddened me to think I would have to go much longer than that. The warmth bathed my face and I reveled in the feel. It felt like a million little fingers caressing my skin and it tingled, I smiled again in delight.
This is going to be a good day, I can feel it, I thought.
I filled my lungs to their capacity and even the air felt warm. It seemed a crime against nature that the clouds were allowed to rule so heavily in this town. Not wanting to miss the sun for one second, I dwindled by the window as long as I could. Until I knew I would most likely be late to first period if I didn't leave soon. Only then did I pull away slowly; the sun swirled around my face in a promise to see me again.
Backpack in hand; I zipped it closed as a knock sounded at the front door. My boots clunked heavily down the steps and I pulled the door open with a smile.
Billy Black stood before me, his son Jacob behind him and the look on Billy's face caused my smile to fall immediately.
"What is it?" was all I could choke out past the huge lump that had clotted in my throat.
"Bella, it's… its Charlie…"
"Where is he, is he hurt, is he in the hospital?" I felt myself begin to panic and my eyes were unable to settle on one thing. They darted back and forth between Billy and Jacob, flitting past them to the empty driveway.
No cruiser. Had Charlie ever been home last night? I wondered.
I racked my brain for any semblance of a memory from the previous evening. I knew he was on a fishing trip and I had gone to bed before he had returned, but that was not unusual. I struggled to recall the sound of his car returning, crunching over the gravel drive. Or the sound of the front door closing as he came in late, the noise had always caused me to stir in my sleep before. I couldn't pull any of that from my memory because he hadn't returned.
Billy's face stayed solemn, Jacob's looked unfathomably pained.
"Just tell me, please."
"Bella, maybe you should sit down, you don't look so good."
My heart pumped faster with each second that passed and my hands began to tingle. It was becoming harder to focus and I wanted to scream at him to just tell me. I concentrated on my breathing that had become ragged, and stared at a nail that stuck jaggedly up from the hardwood floor as I pushed one word from my mouth.
"Charlie's boat was found early this morning. It was capsized and there were bloody clothes found near the boat."
I blinked at him, unseeing as I processed the information given. That's not so bad; they just have to find him.
"So where is the search party now, I'll help," my voice was distant, separated from emotion. Billy just shook his head at me; tears welled in his dark soulful eyes.
"Bella, with the storm last night, there's no way he survived. The boat had crashed into jagged rocks and capsized. Charlie's body wasn't recovered … he's gone Bella."
My lungs tightened painfully and I struggled to pull air through the constricted muscles.
Gone. No, that's not right, he's just lost. Those thoughts roared through my head like a ferocious lion, but none passed my lips. I didn't have the energy to speak; even the warm sun licking around my skin wasn't enough to calm my body.
I clawed for breaths that would not come and felt my chest heaving in and out. My vision was coated with a milky white film and I could no longer focus on anything. Sweat mingled with the tears that streamed effortlessly from my eyes, and they clasped hands and dove off my chin.
Sounds came diluted and I could no longer decipher the things being said to me. I began to shake violently as I allowed my body to give. I fell to the ground limply; the hard floor pressed under my hands was lukewarm in spots where the sun had crept across its planked surface.
My fingernails cracked and broke as I dug them deep into the wood. I began to howl and pant, my body rocked with sobs. Then the air was gone and breathing would not restore the oxygen to my blood, I could no longer howl.
Lanky arms wrap beneath my broken form and I felt like I was being pulled away, my heart stilled and everything went black.
The light sound poked at me relentlessly and I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, willing it to stop. My sleep had been deep and I wasn't ready to wake yet.
The blackness covering my eyes lightened as awareness cleared my conscious, and I knew it was time for me to get up. My head pounded and I wanted nothing more than to be sucked back into my dreamless abyss. I couldn't fathom why my body felt so tired, and the pounding in my head was only amplified by the incessant beep.
Beep… (throb) Beep… (throb) Beep… (throb).
What the hell was that damn noise?
I threw my eyes open in disgust and irritation surprised at my surroundings. The air smelt sterile, stale, and old in some weird fashion. The walls were white and my eyes focused on a painting that hung to my right.
It was a beach scene, all water colored hues of cream, deep-ocean blue and a peach colored sunset. It was a typical painting that would hang in a hospital room. A sharp singeing pain coursed through my veins and shot into my heart at the realization of where I was.
The noise that had roused me sped considerably and I choked on sobs that came unbidden. Before I could even process the events that had landed me in the cold hospital bed I was tethered to, a torrid of emotions stormed my head and I struggled to grasp onto one.
"No," I choked out through my sobs.
"Bella?" I barely heard the voice to my left as I sat shaking and heaving through my cries.
"Bella, you have to calm down." The voice was slightly panicked and I felt the bed shift under the person's weight. My hands started tingling as they had before and my vision shifted into the kaleidoscope effect.
The face inches from me appeared to me as only a shadowed blur, and the words spoken sounded wrong, mashed together and laced with a high pitched ringing noise. My body was shaking harder and it took me a second to realize it wasn't my body that was shaking, but the person straddling me who was shaking it.
"Bella, calm down… breathe!"
I frowned but understood that whoever it shaking me was trying to help.
Why could I not control my breathing?
I tried to focus and slow my breaths, the ringing sound waned from my ears and I no longer felt like I was submerged under water. My sobs turned to soft cries and my vision cleared, revealing Jacob's worried face. He looked pale; his normally tawny glowing skin looked sallow and tired.
"Oh Bella, I am so, so sorry." He wrapped his long arms around me and pulled me to his chest. What I normally would have deemed awkward I accepted and took in greedily. I hugged myself to him tightly and let go, weeping with no regret. Jacob felt small in my arms; his lean lanky frame seemed like it might be crushed under the tightness of my grip.
We stayed that way for some time and he allowed me to wallow in my despair, all the while cradling me. It was not lost on me that Jacob had been through the loss of a parent and understood how I felt. With my energy spent, my cries dwindled and soon we just sat in an embrace. Jacob's shirt was soaked from my tears, but he didn't once pull away or act disgusted. Instead he held me closer as he rocked me and pulled wet strands of hair from my eyes.
My Mother arrived later that evening and Jake stayed. I was in the hospital through the rest of the night and Jake slept in the chair by the bed.
The following morning I awoke and found him curled awkwardly half hanging from the chair and I felt an immense sense of gratitude towards him. In that instant he reminded me of a dog curled in a chair at the foot of my bed - a faithful companion, and I warmed slightly. He had saved me, brought me from near hyperventilation, not once, but twice. And then he had stayed with me and allowed me what I needed.
Jacob stirred from his uncomfortable position and stretched his limbs wide.
"Thanks Jake," I said with a smile, and it was the first time I had smile since the sun warmed my face two days prior.
"For what?" He asked groggily, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
"For being there for me, you've been…" He held his hand up to halt me and just shrugged.
"It's nothing Bella, I'm glad I was here."
"…amazing," I finished over top of him. I had to say it, because it was true and he needed to know. He smiled shyly at me and his cheeks darkened slightly.
"How are you feeling?"
"Horrible," I said honestly.
"But I don't think that's going to go away anytime soon."
Jacob nodded his head in acknowledgement.
"After my mom died I didn't talk to anyone for three weeks. My dad was really worried about me, but I just, I couldn't bear to talk to anyone. I kept everything bottled inside, which now I don't think was the best idea. My sisters and I drifted because of it, and my Dad and I had some problems too." His eyes were sad pools and I felt as if I could go swimming in them. I felt his pain, and I knew he felt mine.
"Anyway, I'm just saying if you need to talk…" he faded out seeming to get self conscious and I smiled at him.
"Thank you, I appreciate that."
The rest of the day blurred by; I was released from the hospital and my mother had filled me in on the funeral arrangements. It would be in two days and then I was to move to Jacksonville with Renee. I could pin point the moment I shut down emotionally to the second I stepped foot back into Charlie's house.
The only time I actually felt anything was when I would wake in a cold sweat screaming from my nightmares. Both mornings before the funeral Billy Black showed up and dropped Jacob off, and he would just sit with me. Not in the house, I couldn't stand to be in the house.
We would go into the woods and find a spot and just sit. Jacob tried to make small talk, but was rather good at gauging when to back off. He was truly a loyal friend and whether I showed it or not, I was very thankful to have him around. If it hadn't have been for him, I would have most likely wandered into the woods and never returned.
Jacob passed the time by telling me stories of his tribe and I listened, half heartedly. When he ran out of stories of his tribe, he began to tell me stories about him and his friends. My attention faded in and out and then it piqued as he finished a particular story.
"So there we were, buck naked in the pool and this lady is screaming at us that we're disgusting. So Quil jumps out, not even trying to cover himself and he says; 'Hey if you don't like what you see, don't look!' I died, I couldn't believe it!"
I burst out laughing to the point that I was doubled over and when I looked up all I saw was the look of shock on Jacob's face. It was the first time I'd laughed in days, but it felt more like years. Slowly, Jacob gained his composure and a smile spread across his face.
"It was pretty funny," he shrugged and chuckled to himself. I laughed lightly with him and shook my head in agreement.
"You have a really nice laugh," he said while staring intently at a root sticking from the ground.
My smile faded and I looked away, my momentary lapse in armor over, and I returned automatically to my trance like state. I couldn't even stop it; it was as if my brain had powered down to preserve its self.
The next morning was the funeral and I couldn't have begun to describe anything about it. It was as if I hadn't even gone. I remembered only two things; Jacob's face in the crowd, because it was home to me then and I could lose myself there, and placing flowers on Charlie's fresh grave. I couldn't even force myself to cry, the pain was too great and my body revolted, refusing to allow me the release.
My mom had helped me pack and I was ready to leave the small town of Forks behind for good, but had asked to make one quick stop before we left. My mom pulled up slowly in front of the Black's residence and I took in a deep breath.
As I climbed the two steps to Jacobs's door I clutched the letter I had written him tightly to my chest. Jacob answered quickly and he could tell by my face why I had come.
I only nodded and looked into his sad brown puppy dog eyes, a broken reflection of my own. I handed him the letter and threw my body into his, wrapping my arms tightly around his small waist. Tears came rolling down my cheeks and I hugged him tighter.
"Goodbye Bella, remember … if you ever need to talk," he said and I could hear the tremor in his voice. I pulled away slowly, wiping the tears from my face.
"Thanks Jake, for everything … I'll never forget." And with that I turned and left. My mother and I began our trip to Jacksonville and I resolved to put Forks behind me for good. I couldn't tell Jake exactly all he had done for me, I could only write it. So the few words that passed between us in our goodbye was how it had to be. But that's what worked for us, and I knew that he understood.
I am writing you this letter because my brain does not allow me real emotions anymore. I can only keep them in my head, unable to express them. I wanted to tell you what I've ached to say these last few days, but could not.
Thank you. You have been the best kind of friend to me the past few days and I cannot even begin to express to you how much you have done. You held my head above water when I didn't have the strength to swim. You absorbed my sadness with every fiber of your being and tried to take away as much of the pain as you could.
Although I fear this is a pain that may last me a lifetime, I am reassured that I have a friend who will be there for just as long. You are an amazing person and I love you for that. I thank you a thousand times and then a thousand more but that can still never be enough.
A/N: Please press review, and I am still attempting to get chapter 8 posted before Christmas... reviews would be a good motivation (wink wink) :)